Fox host calls drug testing food stamp applicants “a no-brainer”

Similar policies have been found unconstitutional and wasteful

Fox & Friends guest co-host Pete Hegseth called Wisconsin Republican Gov. Scott Walker's plan to drug test food stamp applicants a “no-brainer.” Hegseth argued that “taxpayers matter as well,” adding, “even if it's 0.03 percent -- whatever percentage it is -- [does] it not make sense for the government do their due diligence?”

In fact, similar proposals in other states have been found to be an unconstitutionally unreasonable search. Moveover, such programs are costly and rarely find many drug-positive findings. And, as segment guest Taryn Rosenkranz pointed out, Wisconsin, which already has budget shortfalls, expects only 0.03 percent of people who receive benefits to test positive.

From the December 7 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends:

PETE HEGSETH (CO-HOST): Wisconsin could soon become the first state to drug test food stamp applicants.


Well, those who fail the drug test would receive treatment if they couldn't afford it. Shouldn't this plan be a no-brainer? Here to debate it is Democratic strategist Taryn Rosenkranz and Republican strategist Chris Prudhome. Taryn, I will start with you. So, to a lot of our viewers, it’s going to make common sense. If you want to receive support from the government, let's make sure you’re clean in doing so. Where does that logic go wrong?

TARYN ROSENKRANZ: Sure. And I'm going to take the moral argument out of it for a second, about protecting the most vulnerable in our country and in that state and just look at the example of what Wisconsin is actually doing. So, self-admitted by the governor, there is about 0.03, that’s less than a half a percent, of people they expect to test positive. That means this is not a widespread problem. It's not rampant.

The state, just so you know, so the state of Wisconsin has actually had terrible budget shortfalls and shortages, and they’re having all kinds of issues. So to spend like scarce resources on less than half of one percent, which isn't a rampant problem, it’s actually not going to encourage the jobs and more drug-free workers in the workplace. It's really not going to have much of an impact at all. But it is going to take much-needed resources away from prevention programs, job trainings, education. The schools are already having budget shortfalls there. I mean, what we really care about is educating our children and making sure our families have what they need. Aside, like I said, the moral argument that this is a safety net for the most vulnerable. So, keeping all of that in mind, I don't think it's a no-brainer at all.

HEGSETH: Well, Chris, I mean, taxpayers matter as well. I’ll put up a statistic here. The amount of food stamp enrollees in Wisconsin, 670,000 of a population of almost six million. So, even if it's 0.03 percent -- whatever percentage it is -- is it not make sense for the government to do their due diligence and make sure, if they're giving out taxpayer dollars, they’re giving it to people who will use it responsibly?

CHRIS PRUDHOME: Absolutely, Pete. Look, one is too much. One dollar is too much. One person is too much. We have to start cutting down on wasteful spending. And look, Gov. [Scott] Walker is absolutely right. It is not unconstitutional to go get a job to take care of yourself. We -- welfare is not designed for you to stay on top of and to be a crutch. There are people who are career welfare recipients. We have to stop that. It’s time to  stop enabling people to be on the welfare system. This is not a plan to target the low-income. This is a plan to target what's wrong. And what is wrong is being on welfare, is doing drugs. And that 0.3 percent (sic), I'm certainly sure there are many other individuals who may do low-level drugs or other things. This is about a much bigger picture.

HEGSETH: Sure. Taryn, I mean, you can't be on drugs and be in the military. Why should you be able to be on drugs and receive my taxpayer dollars? And this program provides for follow-up treatment for those who are testing positive. So, is this not a way for government to evaluate efficiency in their services, but also take care of people who are addicted?

ROSENKRANZ: Well, the part that no one’s mentioning is that this has been deemed unconstitutional. So I know you said that. It has been deemed unconstitutional, not for the reasons you said, which are -- everyone would agree with that, that you don’t -- you certainly don't. But why it's unconstitutional is that it's been deemed that way for an unlawful search. So if we’re looking at this just from the law of the land --

HEGSETH: So I can’t vet --

ROSENKRANZ: -- which we all like to uphold the Constitution, right? We all want to uphold the Constitution --

PRUDHOME: But that was actually before -- but that was before they inserted the new policy, which is a drug-testing aspect.

ROSENKRANZ: But the Trump administration has not acted on that yet. So right now, this is Gov. Walker acting alone with scarce budget resources focusing on something that's not going to be helpful. I agree with you that welfare reform, and I think the Democrats in Wisconsin agree that welfare reform, is something that we want to look at. But more importantly we want to look at how we can prevent drugs in the first place. And that’s after-school programs, education, and job training in the workforce.

PRUDHOME: But we also should not be enablers.

HEGSETH: Last word briefly. Chris, last word briefly. Very briefly, Chris.

PRUDHOME: But we also don't need to be enablers of people.

ROSENKRANZ: No one wants to be an enabler, sir.

PRUDHOME: And look, this is a certainly -- certainly it was a federal [INAUDIBLE]. This is why the governor put a new piece of the policy in place, which is this aspect of it to actually drug test. That was not originally in it before the federal appeal.